Economic Stimulus In Custer County; 4-County Cash Back Program Huge Success After Day One

It shows just how great Custer County is, that so many people stepped up right away to show support for the business community.

- Andrew Ambriz, CEDC

A stimulus package that could result in up to $1.5 million dollars is being initiated in Custer County, Nebraska.

On Tuesday April 21, the Custer Economic Development Corporation (“CEDC”), which is a countywide economic development entity in Custer County, Nebraska, announced its stimulus package to help businesses in Custer County weather the storm of COVID-19.

Being rolled out is “4-County Cash Back”, a gift card program designed to support small businesses in Custer County that have been impacted by the pandemic. While providing a needed surge of cash to affected businesses, the program also rewards shoppers that spend their money in Custer County businesses, by stretching their dollars by 50% when they buy gift cards through the program.

The design of the program is very simple. Gift certificates can be purchased either online at www.4-county-strong.myshopify.com or over the phone at Nebraska State Bank at 308-872-2466. Customers can order gift cards in increments of $50 up to $200 per store. Once they are ordered and paid for, the CEDC will issue a gift card for their chosen business in an amount equal to 150% of the amount paid by the customer.

As an example, if a customer purchases a $50 gift card for their hair stylist, they will receive a $75 gift card. The CEDC will then distribute the $75 to the participating business. This program will continue until the matching funds of Custer Economic Development Corporation are exhausted.

The CEDC leadership team knew to make a significant impact for all of Cuter County it would take a “war chest” of at least $100,000. Based on funding methodology established by Bryan Slone, who is the President of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the group knew if it could put $300,000 into the Custer County economy it would equate to a $900,000 to $1.5 million dollar stimulus for Custer County.

Executive Director Andrew Ambriz said matching funds were made possible, in part, by the recent sale of the former medical clinic building which was donated by Dr. Leon and Dixie Books.

“The sale of the building could not have been timelier,” said Ambriz. In addition to those funds, he noted several local businesses have donated to the fund, allowing the CEDC to reach its $100,000 threshold. “If we exhaust the funds, there will be $200,000 spent on gift cards,” Ambriz said. “Add with the 50 percent match that means $300,000 is being spent in Custer County which gets us to the impact goal we were trying to reach.”

The first few days of the program, Ambriz explained, will focus on businesses that have been closed or partially closed by the current Directed Health Measure such as theaters, restaurants and bars, cosmetologists, salons, etc. Then it will expand into retail.

Early indications have shown the group is on the right track with 4 County Cash Back. Ambriz stated “We sold over $10,000 worth of gift cards in the first couple of hours of going live which was really exciting. And by the end of the first day we had already issued almost $30,000 and had a couple of businesses sell out of their gift cards. It shows just how great Custer County is, that so many people stepped up right away to show support for the business community.”

Ambriz noted all businesses are able to participate, however a business must opt-in by contacting him at 402-922-0774 or custerdevelopment@gmail.com or contact Nebraska State Bank at 308-872-2466.

More info can also be found at www.custercountyne.com under the COVID-19 Resources tab. He also added that donations are still being accepted if individuals, businesses or organizations would want to contribute as additional funds raised would impact our community even more.

“We want all of our businesses to come out the other side of this nightmare in a vibrant and healthy climate which will move the citizens of Custer County forward.”

Both Mona Weatherly of the Custer County Chief and the Custer Economic Development Corporation contributed to this story.

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